What You Should Look For In A Chamois
If you are new to cycling, you may just assume that the more padding a short has the better off you will be. This isnt necessarily true.
A chamois that is too bulky will feel like a diaper , and can actually cause rather than prevent saddle sores and other discomforts. We tend to choose a moderately padded chamoisone that isnt too thin or too thick.
Of course, a chamois is also a highly personal thing. Some ladies like more padding, some like less. You may have to try a few different pairs of shorts until you discover the chamois that works just right for your body.
For shorter rides, indoor spin classes, and hot days, a thin chamois is ideal. For longer century rides and week-long tours, youre probably going to want something a little thicker.
Another thing to look at it when buying a pair of shorts is the stitching around the chamois. Bad stitching can be the worst!
Look for flatlock sewing around the edges of the chamois, and feel it to make sure that it feels smooth. If you pick one of the shorts on this list, dont worry about the stitching weve already picked shorts with chamois with high-quality seams.
Bib Shorts Versus Regular Waist Bike Shorts
Cyclists generally fall into two categories: those who love bibs and will wear nothing else, and those who think theyre a pain. In general, bibs tend to be more comfortable.
They dont have a waistband to dig into your tummy while you ride, and they help you avoid that dreaded gap between your shorts and jersey where your muffin top can spill out. Plus sized ladies, in particular, tend to prefer bibs.
The one big drawback to bibs is that they are more challenging to change in and out of, and for women, make bathroom breaks considerably more difficult. That said, weve included some bibs on this list that have been designed to help make those pit-stops a little easier.
The Spring Special Bib Shorts
Its not quite warm enough outside for summer-weight kits, but my repertoire of winter bib tights have been put away for the season. But, I love simplicity and always opt for the right kit for the weather. That right kit is usually selected to minimize the use of extra stuff, like arm warmers or leg warmers. Instead, I typically grab my trusty Castelli NanoFlex Bib Knickers but now I have another great option the Bontrager Velocis Thermal InForm Bib Shorts.
Right off the bat, the Velocis Thermal bib shorts were simply amazing with excellent fit and overall comfort. Sizing is perfect and as expected. I typically wear a size Large and these fit quite well. The legs offer good compression and the bib straps are the model that all bib shorts should follow.
Let me rant a little here. The material used for bib straps should not be that difficult to select, but too many bibs on the market feature rough material that can chaff my nipples raw . Weve all been there. Every pair of Bontrager bibs Ive tested over the years has been built with smooth, stretchy and wide bib straps that simply disappear when youre wearing them. Bontrager has nailed it yet again with the Velocis Thermal bib shorts. Yay, straps!
I wish the main leg panels utilized flatlock seams for even more comfort and a nice DWR finish could make these an even better choice for wet weather.
- The model of bib straps all should follow
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Pactimo Ascent Vector Bib
The Pactimo Ascent Vector Bib is our go to summer cycling bib. Thanks to the mesh upper and thinner material, this is a great choice for hot days. .
The shorts are mildly compressive but not overly so, so if you dont like the super tight European feel of bibs like the Machines For Freedoms bibs listed above, these are a good choice. The straps are comfortable and stay in place, although there is no quick release for pee breaks.
These are a high quality bib for under $200 making them a killer deal in my book.
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Sugoi Womens Rs Pro Bib Shorts
Like bibs but dont like trying to figure out how to stop for a pee break in them? The Sugoi bib solves this problem with their patent-pending Pit Stop design. The straps detach and we found that they were easy enough to operate even in a road-side port-a-potty.
They also happen to be extremely comfortable, the legs stay put, and we didnt have any problems with chafing. That said,our shorter testers found that the straps were a bit long, so we recommend these for average to taller height ladies.
Discover More Unknown Paths And Trails
No adventure is complete without a short that can withstand the unknown when you’re off the grid. The Adventure Women’s Cycling Short features a durable woven shell and Schoeller ecorepel® technology for long lasting, water-resistant properties. Rollable leg bands offer extra reflectivity for rides that go past dusk.
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Shebeest Petunia Bib Shorts
If youre the kinda girl that cant stand another pair of boring black bike shorts, SheBeest is your kinda company. Their cycling clothing is colorful and loud, and the Petunia Bib is no exception.
It has a unique halter-style design, which comes in handy during pit-stops. You can just slip the halter over your head and pull the shorts down.
The halter, while great for our shorter testers, was uncomfortable for taller women with longer torsos. This is a short we recommend for shorter riders.
The chamois is fairly thin and non-bulky. We found we liked the thinner padding, but probably wouldnt pick it for a 100-mile day.
Machines For Freedom Endurance Bib Shorts
These are the bibs that Ive been wearing the most over the past year. They are compressive, comfortable, and made with the highest quality construction.
We also love that Machines For Freedom makes their bibs in an incredibly wide array of sizesfrom petite to plus-sizeso whatever your body type, youll be able to find the exact right fit.
The only bummer about these shorts is that they are a little harder to get off for pee breaks, so if this is your first pair of bibs, you might want to pass these by.
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Wherever Your Workout Takes You
The Kalia Women’s Fitness Short was designed for riders who live active lifestyles and want something that looks good on and off the bike. This short has a soft, lightweight shell and comfortable elastic waistband, plus a padded liner that’s comfortable on the bike, and easily removable for other activities.
Options For Plus Size Ladies
For women with bigger bodies, it can be really hard to find a pair of bike shorts. Walk into your local bike shop, and its highly unlikely that youll find anything at all.
Fortunately, there are a growing number of brands offering shorts in a wide variety of sizes. To learn more about these, check out our article on plus size bike shorts.
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Bontrager Velocis Thermal Inform Bib Short Review
When temperatures rise beyond the need for winter-weight tights, but are not quite warm enough for summer-weight bib shorts, a parade of warmers typically enter the picture. While its always good to have leggings and knee warmers, the simplicity of the Bontrager Velocis Thermal InForm Bib Shorts wins the day.
Bontrager Velocis Thermal InForm Bib Shorts Features:
- Arcus inForm BioDynamic Chamois Italian made, OverEasy constructed Aircell pad
- Profila Thermal fabric traps and retains body heat
- Lightweight, low-profile straps offer great support and comfort
- Bib Bridge support with Profila Cool mesh back
- Clean-cut compression leg gripper
- Reflective elements enhance visibility for maximum safety
- Inseam: XS-S 10/25 cm, M-2XL 10.5/27 cm
- Fitted Streamlined fit for all-around cycling performance
Pactimo Ascent Vector Short
Like the Ascent Vector bib above, the Pactimo Ascent Vector short is a high-quality short at a competitive price. These are supportive without being overly compressive, so if you dont like feeling like a sausage youll like these.
The Ascent Vector shorts are comfortable as well as flattering. They arent too short and arent too long, and the chamois is not too thick and not too thin. Talk about hitting the sweet spot.
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Best Padded Bike Shorts For Women
Whether youre ready to invest in your first pair of bike shorts or simply need to add another pair to your expansive cycling wardrobe, weve rounded up the best cycling shorts for women. A good pair of padded bike shorts can make a world of difference, allowing you to ride longer in comfort and to avoid chafing and saddle sores.
The bike shorts on this list can be used for road cycling, commuting, mountain biking, and even for indoor cycling. If you prefer a pair of baggy shorts instead, check out our article on the best Mountain Bike Shorts for women.
Weve also grouped the shorts into two categories: bib shorts and traditional shorts. Not sure of the difference or which you should pick?
Keep scrolling. At the end, we have some tips on what to look for in a cycling short and how to make the best purchase for yourself.
Bontrager Women’s Bike Clothing
We know you love style, fit, comfort, and long lasting performance in the cycling gear you use, and that’s why we know you’ll love these fabulous women’s products from Bontrager. Every item is thoughtfully designed so you can feel & look amazing on your next ride.
Want to see more Bontrager?
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Terry Bicycles Bella Short
We dont know anybody who has tried Terrys Bella bike short and not liked it. From a company that designs solely for women, the Bella short is an all-around winner.
The waistband is super comfortable, the legs stay put, and the padding is magical. These shorts are also durable even with frequent wear. In fact, I have a pair that I wore for close to five years before they wore out.
Read Our Review:Terry Bella
Bontrager Shorts + Pants
Battle soreness and sweat with these great Bontrager cycling shorts and pants for road riding and mountain biking.
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Leg Bands And Waist Bands
Secondary only to the chamois, leg bands and waistbands can make or break a bike short. We like waistbands that dont cut into our skin, but that also doesnt sag. Nobody wants plumber crack.
Leg bands are also important. Most bike shorts have a silicone leg band or other grippy material. This helps keep bike shorts in place so you dont have to keep constantly pulling them down.
Pearl Izumi Attack Short
Pearl Izumi sells LOTS of bike shorts, but the Pearl Izumi Attack short is their best-selling short of all time. Its is a no-frills, get her done kinda short.
They have a nicewide waistband that stays in place and prevents plumber crack, and a comfortable chamois. They also come in a wide variety of sizes so are a good pick for all sizes and body types.
Of course, the best part is the price. The Attack short is comfortable and well constructed, but wont break the bank.
Read Our Review: Pearl Izumi Attack
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Bontrager Solstice Cycling Shorts Review
Bontragers Solstice Cycling Shorts are a high-quality, no-frills pair of shorts that perform well for their price point. For a range of $40 $50 , you can have a pair of cycling shorts that offer the basics of what you need for quality outdoor rides or spin classes. Bontrager self-describes these Solstice shorts as a entry-level pair of shorts.
Bontrager is an interesting brand of cycling clothing. Since the 70s, Bontrager has been known as a premier maker of bike parts and components, geared mainly to the mountain biking crowd. Over time, they became associated with road bikes, and eventually began making cycling gear. In 1995, Bontrager was bought by Trek, but kept the name as cycling junkies recognized it as a dedicated and reliable brand. So, when you are buying Bontrager cycling gear, you are really buying it from Trek. The pros are that Trek has nearly unlimited production and distribution capabilities. The con, we guess, is that it is not quite as niche as some of the other gear makers out there. Still, Bontrager is not a Jonny-come-lately to cycling. They have this for a while, and their products rank up there with some of the best cycling shorts for the money.
Bontrager Solstice Shorts Product Overview
The next Bontrager step up is the Circuit shorts, which adds several features but also about $25 to the price tag.
Specialized Womens Slx Bib Shorts
There arent many budget bibs around. If you want a pair of bibs under $100, we highly recommend the Specialized SLX bibs.
They have a comfortable chamois . The material is of good quality, and they are breathable even when hot.
I am especially impressed with the quality of the chamois in these lower-priced bibs. It is substantial but not too thick, the material is of great quality, and it is incredibly breathable which is just so important, especially on longer rides.
The only place where you can tell its a budget short is with the mesh and seams on the straps. They arent as high of quality or as comfortable as higher end shorts. Still, this is a great place to start.
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Craft Belle Glow Womens Bike Shorts
For hot days, the Craft Belle Glow is a top-pick. The fabric is lightweight and the shorts have breathable panels on the sides. We found that these were the kind of shorts you could put on and forget you were wearing bike shorts!
While these shorts are a bit more expensive, in our experience Craft makes highly-durable long-lasting pieces that make them well worth the investment.
Price: Price not available
Choose Your Favorite Length
Not all bike shorts have the same inseam length. Some will hit right above the knee, and some show a bunch of thigh.
Which you should pick is totally a personal choice. Just pay attention to the inseam length when youre shopping, if you have a preference.
Benefits of a longer short are more protection against chafing, and more protection in the event of a crash. Some women just might not want to show that much leg either.
Shorter shorts make for better tan lines and can provide additional airflow. Just keep in mind that youre providing yourself less protection from the sun and from potential road rash.
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Castelli Free Aero Womens Bike Shorts
These Castelli shorts have my absolute favorite chamois. It manages to be well-padded without feeling like a diaper.
These are my go-to shorts for a long day on the bike. The leg and waistbands are comfortable and stay put no annoying adjustments required.
The only thing to be aware of when ordering is that these shorts run small, so make sure to order up a size or youll be disappointed.
Specialized Sl Race Bib Shorts
When we asked the Femme Cyclist Community which bibs they preferred, the Specialized SL Race came out as the resounding winner. Why?
The magnetic rear clip makes the shorts super easy to get out of for road-side pit stops. Women also like the compressive four-way stretch fabric and the higher cut on the belly, both of which help hold everything in.
Theres also a slightly cheaper SL bib , but the chamois on the SL Race is significantly nicer, so if you can afford the extra coin, Id recommend it.
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